Monday, July 28, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Charter networks to discuss new Camden schools

CAMDEN Two charter school networks looking to open "Renaissance" schools in the city will present their plans and answer questions at a series of community meetings this week.

The meetings, which follow criticism, mostly from teachers and some residents, over the use of the charter-like public-private schools, will be held Wednesday at H.B. Wilson Family School and Thursday at R.C. Molina Elementary School. Both meetings will run from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. with dinner served at 5 p.m.

Two additional meetings will be held Saturday at Yorkship Elementary School from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and at Octavius V. Catto Family School from 3 to 5 p.m.

Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard will speak briefly about his long-term improvement plan for city schools, which includes the takeover of some city schools by Renaissance operators.

Both Mastery Charter and Uncommon Schools will then discuss their proposals. Mastery and Uncommon were among seven applicants for Renaissance schools, and the only two selected to move forward in the process. They still must present to the board and then to the state.

Mastery, which has 15 nonprofit charter schools in Philadelphia, proposed opening or turning around up to three elementary schools in fall 2014 and growing to 4,500 students in six kindergarten-through-12th-grade schools by fall 2017.

Uncommon Schools operates 38 schools serving 10,000 students in Boston; New York City; Rochester and Troy, N.Y.; and Newark, N.J. It has proposed to open an elementary school in Camden serving kindergartners in fall 2014, an additional elementary school in 2015, and a high school by fall 2019.

The Urban Hope Act paved the way for up to three Renaissance school operators to come into Newark, Trenton, and Camden, though only Camden has approved a school.

The KIPP Cooper Norcross Academy is slated to break ground March 5 and will open in a temporary facility in the fall. The academy has links to the family foundation of George E. Norcross III, the majority owner of The Inquirer's parent company.

- Julia Terruso

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